Work Life Balance

Working in Hospitality can be amazing, fast-paced, fun, social and rewarding. But working in our industry can also involve long hours, late nights, long periods without days off and often means missing out on countless plans made by friends and family.


Why does it often get overlooked in the industry?

Missing out on plans mixed with long hours and late nights can be a cause of stress for people who work in this demanding environment. However one of the major factors that could contribute to people feeling as though their work life balance is out of sync can be long working weeks, when the waiver for the 48 hour work week is signed by an employee it is understood that they are signing up for long hours and hard work, but what is often not discussed at that point is how that may have a detrimental effect on the employees mental and physical health. If you are an employer, you need to consider whether longer hours might be a problem for your staff and whether they may be under stress due to work.

What issues can lead to a work life imbalance?

There are a number of factors can lead to an work life imbalance in our industry with one of the main factors being the unknown nature of shift patterns and working in shifts. Shift work adds yet another dimension that can be challenging to your health and well-being, for many not knowing when rotas will be put up can add increased stress and pressure to committing to plans outside of work. To compound this shift patterns can often be irregular and even (in the best-case scenarios) where staff get 2 days off a week, people can still realistically go 10 days without a day off. Meaning even if they were to do an average week of 48 hours (using the 48 hour waiver as a minimum), that employee would work just shy of 100 hours between days off. And even after that the employee (in many cases will have no guarantee that they will have 2 days off together after that. There may also be times and situations where extra shifts are required by the business (over Christmas and other peak times) where staff may be asked to work much longer hours that the above scenario.

Another factor that can have effect on this is workplace training. While this is a necessary factor of running a successful, professional hospitality business the argument can be made that, even if a member of staff is coming into work for a couple of hours and being paid, that then becomes a working day for them and doesn’t allow the space required for switching off, refreshing the mind and coming back to work refreshed rejuvenated and full of the energy needed to deliver a great service at the highest level you require. training session on one of their days off. With training in your venue one option to combat this could be to incorporate a 10–15 minute staff briefing before each shift, you can use this time to try out new dishes, raise issues about service standards.

Work life balance meaning and why work life balance is important

A work life balance, put simply, is the division of time and focus between work and family or leisure activities. It is critical that we in the industry remain aware of the pressures that long working hours can have on people working in the industry at all levels of the employment scale. Working in an industry where most full-time positions are 45/48+ hours a week and time is sporadic means that days off are often used to rest before going into another long stretch of shifts. A good work life balance is especially crucial for our industry as it allows staff time to unwind, get away from the workplace and recharge. Research from The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found that ‘One in five hospitality workers suffer from work-related severe mental health issues’. 84% of those working in hospitality attributed feeling increased stress as a direct result of their job. Additionally Nestlé conducted a survey which found that 8 in 10 chefs have experienced poor mental health at some point during their career and 48% believe there is not enough being done to support their mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Work life balance tips

There are a number of actions that can be taken by employers to minimise the negative effects that can arise from working in hospitality.

  • Rotas can be done and sent to staff a good while in advance (4 weeks minimum if possible), this would allow staff to make plans with family and friends, allowing them to look forward to events knowing they will be able to attend.
  • Where possible staff should be asked if they prefer to have their days off together giving a good amount of time off to recuperate and come back to work with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
  • Where staff training is scheduled on staff days off training booster courses could be scheduled for staff that have days off, allowing them to have full autonomy over their time off.
  • As well as these changes to staff rotas mental health training and wellbeing guidance should be offered to all members of staff routinely and followed up on with a honest focus on wellbeing, as an additional check on staff welfare built into the fabric of your working relationship with employees.

What help is available for people?

At this time of year (December when writing this) the industry can be incredibly stressful for operators and staff alike, there are some great tools around to help you reinforce the necessity of wellbeing during this time of year and reduce Christmas burnout as much as possible. ‘So let’s Talk’ are a fantastic charity that provides education, events, training and activities on all aspects of mental, physical and financial health inside of the hospitality industry.

Similarly, Hospitality Action is another great charity helping people overcome challenges – from physical illness or mental health issues to financial difficulty, family problems to addiction – Hospitality Action is there to help.
They have a 24/7 helpline for anyone at any time that may feel like they need it 0808 802 0282.

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